Student debt affects not just the young but also the young at heart, according to a new report.

According to The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, 2.2 million Americans over the age of 55 are now working to pay off outstanding student loans while trying to prepare for their retirement.

To clarify, the data doesn't include Parent PLUS loans that parents take on behalf of their offspring. The outstanding loans are for their own or their spouse’s college education.

“This is not a problem that's going away... it's only going to get worse," the report’s author, Karthik Manickam, said in a press conference.

The report says 43% of all student loan borrowers in this age bracket are middle-income. 1.4 million are actively employed, and 820,000 are unemployed.

Half of older Americans with student debt are in the bottom half of income earners

Half of the working borrowers aged 55 and above earn less than $54,600 annually and owe an average of $58,823. The report's author calls this data "a major financial vulnerability."

“Lower-income and middle-income or older workers have the largest amount of debt and are then faced with difficult decisions about whether to reduce their retirement savings, or to work longer and delay retirement to repay their student loans,” said Manickam.

To add salt to the wound, 14.9 percent of workers aged 55-64 and 17.2 percent of workers 65 and older have not completed their degree. As a result, they are not reaping the financial benefits they anticipated when taking on the debt.

Another nail in the coffin on the value of college education?

This report arrives at a time when the value of a college education is under intense scrutiny.

A recent survey from Pew Research found 40% of respondents believed a degree wasn't necessary to land a well-paying job. Another survey found a third of Gen Z and millennials chose to skip college altogether because it just wasn’t worth the cost.

Older Americans, meanwhile, simply run out of time to get a return on their investment.

“Older debtors lack the characteristics of younger debtors – more “prime-aged” working years left, more time to save for retirement – making it harder for them to attain the promised “returns” on their investment,” reads the report from The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis.

Biden’s SAVE Plan to the rescue

The report offers several pieces of advice to help older student loan borrowers save for retirement—chief among which is enrolling in Biden's Savings on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan.

SAVE aims to reduce student loan burdens through income-driven repayment and accelerated loan forgiveness. Borrowers make payments based on income, leading to loan forgiveness after a specific period for lower-income earners.

Nearly 8 million borrowers have already enrolled in the SAVE plan and 4.5 million borrowers have a monthly payment of $0 under the plan, according to the Whitehouse.

The report also calls for an end to Social Security garnishment. On average, about $2,500 is taken from Social Security benefits annually for those behind on federal student loan payments.